Helping Johnny Remember
Shows the problems of a boy rejected by other children because he is selfish, uncooperative and domineering. Illustrates how the group accepts him back and tries to help him when he shows a desire to be courteous.
CU Girl: "Johnny's rude."
CU Another girl: "...and selfish!"
CU Boy: "He doesn't think of others!"
Third girl: "He won't take turns."
CU Boy looking in mirror
VO: "Would you want to play with you? The you that we see in the mirror?"
Boy shakes his head "no"
Ken Smith sez: Johnny is a jug-eared little brat whose friends won't play with him because he is "selfish" and "always yelling."
This entire film is shot in a late fifties Black Void, as Johnny's five former friends struggle to build what looks like a miniature city block out of cardboard boxes and construction paper. The omniscient, invisible narrator is apparently standing right behind the camera, and the children are not shy in voicing their disapproval of Johnny's behavior. "He said all our ideas were corny," says one. "He wouldn't let anybody else use the blue paint," whines another. "Gee whiz, what a creep!" adds a third.
The narrator-behind-the-camera beckons (we see his arm) Johnny in from the edge of the Black Void and draws two cartoon faces on a convenient blackboard: "Smiley" and "Sulky." "If you want other children to like to play with you, you'll have to be a Smiley, not a Sulky," he warns. He tells Johnny that "learning to be considerate of others is like learning to tie your shoes" and instructs him to put on "a happy, considerate-of-others face." Johnny vows to try, but what if he slips up? The children suggest tapping their temples ("giving him the signal") whenever Johnny begins acting rude, thus helping him remember to be good. "If Johnny keeps trying hard," the narrator concludes, "it won't be long before he'll be nice all the time!"
Very similar in style to Holiday From Rules. In order to simplify synching the on-screen kids' voices with that of the narrator, the narrator apparently stood on the set while he spoke; you can hear the echo. "Cathy's" little brother, who suggests the temple-tapping signal, is obviously retarded.
- 2002-07-16 00:00:00
- Closed captioning
- Run time
Subject: 50 years later...
Nonetheless a great film, cute kids and I dont see anything bad about the acting... And lucky kids too because if I was there its very likely a "tornado" woulda hit that town...just like it did the town on my brother's train board.
Subject: maybe johnny is sulky
these kids are the same age as I am now wish I had a dollar for every hour we have all spent in therapy
Subject: Fitting In in the Fifties
The idea of an everyday activity being enacted on a sound stage is a common one in these films. For example, theres a kitchen on a soundstage in Practical Dreamer, an entire family surrounded by consumer objects on a soundstage in American Look and a bowling alley on a soundstage in The Golden Years. The filmmakers would say it was strictly a design decision, but it does say something about the times. The stage is a static space without a shred of privacy. Outside of the tight little group in this film, theres nothing but darkness. Johnny has no choice but to try to fit in.
Subject: Effective film for children in 1956
I found that the kids choosen were just fine
in this production, and would be easy for the young viewers to identify with.
Subject: It's all an act
The narrator's hand appears to draw pictures of how Johnny appears to the others. Then a mirror appears to bring Johnny to self-reflection, not for the purpose of self-understanding, but for the purpose of getting the others to let him play with them, so he learns the first principle: the smiley face. That only gets him so far. To continue, he must learn to *act* nice and understand the cues of others, so if he forgets his act, he'll get back on script. If he simply does this long enough and tries hard enough "he'll be nice all the time".
Subject: Helping Johnny ACT
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